LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 21: Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball while defended by Tony Mitchell #5 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game at Rupp Arena on January 21, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
|Final - 1.21.2012||1||2||Total|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||32||39||71|
The Alabama Crimson Tide came into Rupp Arena with a chip on their shoulder, but they leave with a tough loss courtesy of the Kentucky Wildcats' second half free throw shooting. Congratulations to the Tide on an outstanding game. Hanging 71 points on Kentucky in Rupp Arena is no mean feat, and even though Alabama has shot the ball poorly from three all year long, they did not today, shooting 71% on 5-7 shots from distance. Alabama's defense held Kentucky to only 43% on their home floor, while shooting 48% from the field themselves. The Tide had a chance to win this game on the strength of pure perseverance and good shooting, but saw that opportunity slip away in the waning minutes thanks to outstanding free throw shooting from Kentucky.
JaMychal Green posted a double-double with game-highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Crimson Tide (13-6, 2-3), who were dealt their third straight loss. Trevor Releford contributed 17 points and Trevor Lacey scored 10. "I thought you had two teams out there that really battled and fought hard," said Alabama head coach Anthony Grant. "I thought our guys certainly gave the effort and played with the passion as a coach that you want to see."
"I thought it was a very good college basketball game today," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "You had two teams out there that really battled and fought hard. I thought our guys certainly played with effort and the passion that, as a coach, you want to see. Unfortunately we weren't able to make the plays down the stretch."
"We came into the game and we knew we had to be physical and hit them because they’re athletic and long in the front court," Alabama’s JaMychal Green said. "Our focus mainly was hitting them, being physical and rebounding."
Alabama stayed close for the entire 40 minutes but could never get over the hump in a 77-71 loss at Rupp Arena. UK did not score a field goal in the final 6:57 of play but made 15 free throws in that stretch, including eight in the final minute, to hold off a determined effort. The Wildcats ended the game with 40 free throw attempts, but Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant made no mention of the officiating and spoke more of missed opportunities. "A lot is being made of our being physical, but we just played the way we play," Grant said. "They're a great transition team, and we didn't do a good job against it at times. We've got to do a better job of rebounding the ball. And we've got to figure out a way to do a better job of defending without fouling."
1. Trevor Releford. The sophomore point guard was scoreless in the first half. He attempted only two shots in 16 minutes. But he played every minute of the second half and scored 17 points. He sank 6-8 shots, including 2-2 from the perimeter, and he made 3-5 free-throw attempts. A couple of his drives through heavy traffic for layups were spectacular. If he could develop as a a consistent outside shooter, we might be looking at the next Derrick Rose.
For much of the season, this University of Alabama football team has been burdened with comparisons, particularly to the 1992 and 2009 Crimson Tide teams that won national championships. In the end, the 2011 team forged its own identity, a fact that went unspoken at Saturday's championship celebration but was just as important as any of the trophies that were displayed. Alabama fans in the future will now compare other teams to 2011, particularly when talking about overcoming adversity or preparing to play on the big stage. Saturday was officially the end, though, of 2011. Now is the time for the 2012 team to take shape, and it is a team, at least at the outset, that will face its own set of comparisons, most notably to the other recent teams that followed national champions: 1993 and 2010.
The No. 5 Alabama gymnastics team edged No. 9 Penn State 196.175-196.100 to take first place in Saturday’s four-way meet in Rec Hall. Michigan State was third with a 192.875 while Cornell was fourth with a 188.850. "I have to congratulate Penn State," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "I thought they had a great performance tonight and were rock solid on the balance beam." With the Crimson Tide leading by just a tenth of a point going into the last rotation of the night, the meet came down to the final competitor for each team. "While we didn’t count any falls tonight, we had some miscues and gave away a few tenths here and there," Patterson said. "I really think our team has to learn from this. We are going to face teams that maybe we’re a little bit more talented than, but if we’re not at our best, we’ll have another situation like tonight where it came down to the last routine."